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Posted: 8/12/2017 12:19:21 AM EST
[Last Edit: 8/12/2017 1:43:27 AM EST by JoshInReno]
I have evacuated 4 times due to wildfire. The most recent less than a week ago. Each time has been different, but the most recent has taught me more lessons than the others. So lets take a look:

1st: Middle school. We had just moved into a house that had been vacant for years. Defensible space was non-existent. A fire broke out right behind the house and I went to confront it with a garden hose. I learned very quickly how pointless that was. A fire in tall, dry grass is a sight to behold. It went from "damn!" to "run for your life!!" in about 30 seconds. The fire stopped just short of the house.

2nd: Knock on the door. A deputy knocked on my door around midnight and told me to grab my things and go. A fire had been sparked sometime after I had gone to bed and the wind pushed it toward where I was living. No prep and 5 minutes to get out and drive away with the clothes on my back.

3rd: Stay out. Wildfire broke out during the day while at work. Road-block wouldn't let me anywhere near my home.

4th: Most recent. Had just left my house with wife and kids to do some shopping. Shortly before that, I heard a bunch of thunder as is common this time of year. We live on a hill, and as we drove down, we noticed smoke pouring off the hillside about two miles away. My parents live about two miles away from me, and they are out of town. I swing the car toward their house as they have pets and renters who are now in harms way. A police roadblock is bypassed on a dirt road and we hit their driveway running. When we arrive the fire is moving downhill toward the homes - that isn't normal. The fire is halfway up the hill when we arrive. By the time we leave 90 seconds later, the fire has moved an additional 1/2 mile downhill into the neighborhood. We grab the dogs and haul ass out of there, headed home. We watch out the car window as the fire moves with us. It makes a quick turn east as we near home, buying us some time to escape.

Upon reaching home, I instruct the wife and kids to grab our dogs and whatever they deem necessary for evacuation. "You have 5 minutes" I say. Dogs, pictures and a fireproof box with documents are thrown in the truck. We leave soon after - with a 10' wall of fire marching toward our home. It was about this time the rain started and changed what could have been a horrible situation into an inconvenience. Several hours later, we returned to our home unscathed. The fire came within 1/2 mile, but no harm was done. My house is stucco, with a cement tile roof and has in interior sprinkler system. It would be really hard to burn. On top of that I have solid insurance and a good deal of defensible space. Houses can be replaced. It is a reality we accept of living where we do.

Lessons learned:

I did not have a trauma kit in my truck. Bumps and bruises kit, yes - but not a trauma kit. I fixed that.
5 dogs are HARD to corral and load at a moments notice!! From first sign to evacuation of two houses was less than 30 minutes. Camper shell on my truck helped, but a ramp would be nice.
Bug out bag wasn't ready. It got left behind. I need to fix that.
While my truck is ideal as an evac vehicle, there was no long-gun storage. I need to fix that.
I didn't have a supply of dog food in ready to go fashion. I need to fix that.
The amount of "spectators" was surreal. We are evacuating from a wall of flame - and the streets are packed with people who have parked their cars to take pictures. This is new.

Anyway - I needed to put this in writing so I can remind myself of what needs to be done.
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 12:28:16 AM EST
Damn.

Glad you're ok and took the time to AAR.
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 1:34:34 AM EST
Thanks for the real-world scenarios. It didn't even occur to me to account for the pets. That adds a whole new level of complexity and the wife would not be happy if we had to evacuate and didn't take the pets.
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 6:39:04 AM EST
I have three CATS that would need to be evacuated. And none of them come when we call!
I have a BOB but need to check it out; I haven't been into it for years and forgot what I have in it. It was centered around a few MREs and a change of clothes, plus some water and a few boxes of ammo for my GP100.
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 6:39:51 AM EST
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Originally Posted By feudist:
Damn.

Glad you're ok and took the time to AAR.
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This.
Glad it all worked out.
Five dogs,,,,,that'd he a nightmare.
Hope they all got along.lol.


My be time for a snatch and grab tote or duffle bag for you to keep at the ready during fire season, along with individual kits.
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 7:08:19 AM EST
Glad everyone, to include property is safe! This is another good reminder about having a "get-home bag" or some type of BoB in your vehicle. If you're shopping in town and there's a roadblock to your home or if it's already the victim of fire, quake, flood, etc., then at least you have something to hold you over until insurance claims can be completed.

ROCK6
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 7:51:23 AM EST
Glad you  are safe.. thanks for the lessons learned.

and the spectators all need parking tickets and then some.
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 8:44:17 AM EST
Originally Posted By JoshInReno:

Anyway - I needed to put this in writing so I can remind myself of what needs to be done.
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how bout move??

<insert excuse here>


If my home was in a place that needed to evacuated multiple times, I wouldnt keep staying there
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 10:07:33 AM EST
I know this won't be a popular opinion, but I would never endanger human life for any animal. Even my animal loving wife would never let a fireman go into our burning house to save her beloved cat. Yes, we have talked about this. Break windows on the way out or from outside and hope for the best.

Rush into an active wildfire area to save a couple dogs? I never would. Put myself and my loved ones in real life threatening danger for an animal is not even a consideration worry entertaining for me.
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 10:37:50 AM EST
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Originally Posted By TaylorWSO:


how bout move??

<insert excuse here>


If my home was in a place that needed to evacuated multiple times, I wouldnt keep staying there
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3 different homes.

Every area has natural disasters to deal with - wildfire is ours.
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 10:44:41 AM EST
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Originally Posted By Rat_Patrol:
I know this won't be a popular opinion, but I would never endanger human life for any animal. Even my animal loving wife would never let a fireman go into our burning house to save her beloved cat. Yes, we have talked about this. Break windows on the way out or from outside and hope for the best.

Rush into an active wildfire area to save a couple dogs? I never would. Put myself and my loved ones in real life threatening danger for an animal is not even a consideration worry entertaining for me.
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Burning house? No. I wouldn't either.

But if I have a reasonable chance of doing it safely (for family animals) I will. A rapid risk assessment was made and I am comfortable with my decision. Put in the same situation, I wouldn't expect everyone to make the same one.
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 12:09:39 PM EST
I can't understand why people don't install roof sprinklers in wildfire areas, with 5k gallons of water at a bare minimum to feed them if the water utility goes down. Set them to spray a defensive perimeter and you're good. Test annually to make sure everything is shipshape, etc. Defensible space around the house goes a long way, too. If you must keep the trees at least clear the brush out and keep the grass down.

The wood shake roof and siding houses with overhanging trees, inside of a wildfire area, with no fire suppression equipment or water stored on site, really bother me.

Thanks for the AAR, but I'd rather hear about you setting off your roof sprinklers to wet down the house and surrounding area in advance of the fire. Hell, landscape sprinklers have been responsible for preventing house loss, along with hose-fed sprinklers set out long before the fire arrival. You might think those would be like pissing into a bonfire but every little bit can help(like OP's internal sprinklers may have).
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 2:54:01 PM EST
A kit for the truck would be good!

So would a couple bags in the house you could grab.
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 8:14:32 PM EST
Originally Posted By JoshInReno:

Bug out bag wasn't ready. It got left behind. I need to fix that.
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Why wasn't it ready?
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 8:32:55 PM EST
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Originally Posted By tc556guy:


Why wasn't it ready?
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i'm asking the same question myself. About mine.
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 9:26:48 PM EST
If the wind isn't too bad, and you have an out, a high powered backpack blower will probably work better and be way more portable than a garden hose.

If it is raging, just get away.
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 9:55:52 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/12/2017 10:00:08 PM EST by sefus]
First, thanks for posting up and glad you're ok OP.

Second, please don't break windows. In fact shuting all the doors would be much, much better. When fire crews get on scene they can better attack a segmented structure, not one that's been pre-vented, giving them fewer options.

I'm guessing in Nevada you don't have the option for a green zone around your place, may recommend some fire break roads plowed in and kept up each year as it sounds like the rest of your place is pretty well constructed and protected.
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 10:32:41 PM EST
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Originally Posted By tc556guy:


Why wasn't it ready?
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I had taken it apart to make some changes and didn't finish putting it back together. Laziness is what it boils down to. It wasn't a big of priority as it should have been.
Link Posted: 8/12/2017 10:50:33 PM EST
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 12:09:10 AM EST
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Originally Posted By Cpn_Ron:
I can't understand why people don't install roof sprinklers in wildfire areas, with 5k gallons of water at a bare minimum to feed them if the water utility goes down. Set them to spray a defensive perimeter and you're good. Test annually to make sure everything is shipshape, etc. Defensible space around the house goes a long way, too. If you must keep the trees at least clear the brush out and keep the grass down.

The wood shake roof and siding houses with overhanging trees, inside of a wildfire area, with no fire suppression equipment or water stored on site, really bother me.

Thanks for the AAR, but I'd rather hear about you setting off your roof sprinklers to wet down the house and surrounding area in advance of the fire. Hell, landscape sprinklers have been responsible for preventing house loss, along with hose-fed sprinklers set out long before the fire arrival. You might think those would be like pissing into a bonfire but every little bit can help(like OP's internal sprinklers may have).
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I used to work for a major irrigation manufacturer. Sprinklers on the roof is not as easy as you think it'd be. The first problem is range. The sprinkler heads you buy at Home Depot won't have the range to soak a meaningful area around a house.

Second problem is that sprinkler heads with enough range have high flow rates. This is bad, because you ideally want the sprinklers to be able to run for several hours. High flow sprinklers will use up a water source too quickly or cause wasteful runoff.

The third challenge is durability of this system. UV exposure and high heat on a roof will quickly destroy PVC pipe. Metal is better, but you need to upsize the pipe for less pressure loss.

Basically, there are only a few agricultural sprinkler heads that will work well for this application. (Rainbird LF 2400?) Long throw, low gpm is a pretty specialized requirement. It can be done though. I had a customer design a system that used a propane-converted pump to draw water from a swimming pool. It would run for hours, thoroughly soaking a decent area around his cabin.
Another customer successfully diverted a wildfire away from her horses using an existing rain gun system (huge output and range). That was an interesting phone call. She called in a panic wanting to know how to turn on the system because a fire was approaching. I could hear the firefighters in the background evacuating people from what I assume was the ranch house. When the water came on, I could hear the relief in her, and their voices.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 1:59:19 PM EST
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Originally Posted By Kilroytheknifesnob:

I used to work for a major irrigation manufacturer. Sprinklers on the roof is not as easy as some people you think it'd be. The first problem is range. The sprinkler heads you buy at Home Depot won't have the range to soak a meaningful area around a house.

Second problem is that sprinkler heads with enough range have high flow rates. This is bad, because you ideally want the sprinklers to be able to run for several hours. High flow sprinklers will use up a water source too quickly or cause wasteful runoff.

The third challenge is durability of this system. UV exposure and high heat on a roof will quickly destroy PVC pipe. Metal is better, but you need to upsize the pipe for less pressure loss.

Basically, there are only a few agricultural sprinkler heads that will work well for this application. (Rainbird LF 2400?) Long throw, low gpm is a pretty specialized requirement. It can be done though. I had a customer design a system that used a propane-converted pump to draw water from a swimming pool. It would run for hours, thoroughly soaking a decent area around his cabin.
Another customer successfully diverted a wildfire away from her horses using an existing rain gun system (huge output and range). That was an interesting phone call. She called in a panic wanting to know how to turn on the system because a fire was approaching. I could hear the firefighters in the background evacuating people from what I assume was the ranch house. When the water came on, I could hear the relief in her, and their voices.
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Fixed it for you, I'm well aware of the work involved. I did mention water storage on site, etc.

Black pipe and a decent pump can be had locally to most anyone. If doing it DIY-style some research is obviously called for, a simple Google search and you find multiple "roof top fire sprinklers." Even a cheap high-flow pump from Harbor Freight, a water source on site(cistern, pond, pool), some black pipe and some heads ordered online would be exponentially better than nothing. Make sure it's a "garbage pump" if pulling from a pond, do some calculations on needed flow/head/pressure for the system, and size accordingly. I'd paint the pipe to make it blend in and prevent corrosion too.

Here's the first Google link, it's a good one(no affiliation in any way):
http://www.onestopfire.com/sprinklers.htm
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 2:58:38 PM EST
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Originally Posted By feudist:
Damn.

Glad you're ok and took the time to AAR.
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+1
Link Posted: 8/19/2017 11:16:53 PM EST
Grat lessons learned. Glad you guys are okay. Also, if I were you, I'd move.
Link Posted: 8/21/2017 9:19:06 AM EST
I would seriously consider investing some time and money in fire resistant landscaping and any other changes that would improve your odds.
There is a picture somewhere of a house in California whos owner did just that and its the only one left standing in the photo.
Link Posted: 8/23/2017 9:26:15 AM EST
So you're re-organizing your BOB. Would it have actually helped you in this situation, or are you one of those who fills their BOB with lots of spare ammo, camping gear, and other things that are unlikely to be of use in 98% of the situations you're likely to actually face?

Make sure your BOB is tailored to your actual needs. Not the imagined ones. Unless you've already got your likely needs covered...

Someone mentioned a tote earlier, which I believe is the way to go for a family evacuating in a vehicle. Instead of thinking about how you'll survive walking around the devastated post-apocalyptic wilderness, think about what your family will need if you have to evac and stay in a hotel or with relatives for a while.
Link Posted: 8/23/2017 1:43:34 PM EST
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Originally Posted By JoshInReno:
I had taken it apart to make some changes and didn't finish putting it back together. Laziness is what it boils down to. It wasn't a big of priority as it should have been.
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Originally Posted By JoshInReno:
Originally Posted By tc556guy:

Why wasn't it ready?
I had taken it apart to make some changes and didn't finish putting it back together. Laziness is what it boils down to. It wasn't a big of priority as it should have been.
Back when I was a new PFC in the Army Guard, like literally a month out of basic and my first trip to the field with my home unit,my squad leader gave me some good advice that I always practiced after that: if you go into your ruck, butt pack, etc for anything, you immediately put everything back together. don't leave anything strewn around thinking you'll "get to it later", as there may be no time "later". It keeps your stuff together and you tend to lose stuff a lot less.
Sounds like you caught yourself in that sort of a problem.
When I break my bag down for seasonal refit, resupply, etc, I set aside time so that I can focus on doing that task in one sitting, so that stuff isn't left undone.
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